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Vuelta director general Ignacio Ayuso has revealed just how wide the repercussions of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis's positive test for testosterone have been, telling Friday's AS they lost their new main backer in July in the wake of the sensational news breaking about the American. "We had everything tied up in July, we had that main sponsor, a major company of course, as well as Ford coming in and the continued backing of Ifema and From. But the Landis case produced major ructions. That first company became doubtful and decided to pull out of the deal," Ayuso explains, adding that in the circumstances it was agreed the best thing for all concerned was to tear up the one-year contact that had been signed.
Ayuso is hopeful that the lapsed sponsor, who he refused to name, might return in the future. Their space this year has been filled by Expo Zaragoza 2008, who had already committed to the race for 2007 and 2008. "Although we were all meant to be on holiday, we reached an agreement on a widening of their deal so that they now sponsor the [leader's gold] jersey," says Ayuso, who reveal the race would not lose out financially despite the loss of its main backer, although they won't make money either.
Rumours the race might start in Zaragoza next year are unfounded he also says, adding the race is likely to start in Galicia and probably in the city of Vigo. The Vuelta could well start in Zaragoza in 2008 however.
- More details have emerged on the false licence Frank Vandenbroucke is racing under for the Italian Team Olympus have been released from his contract with Unibet.com. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, who have spoken to the errant Belgian rider, Vandenbroucke maintains the idea for him to use a licence of a Swiss-born native Francesco Della Ponte, resident in Italy and using a photo of world champion Tom Boonen came from his team's president, who is none other than 1994 Giro d'Italia winner Evgeni Berzin. "I put the photo there," admits Berzin in Gazzetta. "I was confused, it was only a small mistake. We haven't killed anyone."
- 2002 world champion Mario Cipollini has described himself as "astounded" at the suggestion made in Thursday's edition of La Repubblica that he has links with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the Operacion Puerto investigation. "I think it's absurd that in a very arbitrary way that my name has been linked with something I know nothing about," said Cipollini in response to the article. "I don't know Doctor Fuentes and I have had no contact with him." Cipollini has instructed his lawyers to take action "to protect my image".
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